Sales Funnel to Sell Online Courses

6 Proven Ways to Sell Online Courses Using a Sales Funnel.

Several online course creators struggle with marketing and selling their courses.

For one, advertising is expensive, and organic SEO doesn’t get any easier. Also, as the industry grows, the competition is getting fierce. These make it challenging to sell courses.  

How do you market your online course to reach the right people, impact them, and profit from your efforts? Simple. Create an effective and efficient workaround using an online course sales funnel. 

An effective sales or marketing funnel attracts quality leads by helping you streamline marketing efforts that cater to prospects’ needs. This, in turn, boosts conversions. 

Looking to get recurring sales? Here are six proven ways to improve your online course funnel for profit.

1. Define and analyze your target market

Like every digital product, your online courses must fill a market need and cater to a specific audience. 

Using the answers garnered from your research, tailor your course to solve potential customers’ challenges. This is key to attracting ideal customers for your online course sales funnel. 

You can define your target market by creating a buyer persona for your target customer. This buyer persona (also known as customer avatar) describes your ideal customer, highlighting their age, gender, challenges, and buying goals.

Here’s an example below.

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Meanwhile, analyzing your target market doesn’t end with creating buyer personas. You must also identify their problems, which you can determine through research.

Browse prospective customers’ favorite forums and find out what questions they have about your course topic. Google’s “People Also Ask” feature, Quora,  and Reddit are great places to start; search for a keyword relating to your course and take note of the questions asked.

2. Build your email list from scratch

After defining your target audience, attract them to you to nurture and turn them into customers. 

But it’s difficult to sell to a cold audience. Building an email list will help you generate leads that you can nurture until they make a purchase. It also helps you connect with your target audience, and build trust. 

Beyond that, having an email list helps with audience segmentation allowing you to deliver custom Facebook ads to potential buyers.

Although building your email list from scratch takes time, it’s highly effective for a successful sales funnel. 

To begin, you’ll need a lead magnet to offer in exchange for a prospect’s email address. Potential customers are likely to give out their email addresses in exchange for something they perceive as equal value. However, your lead magnet must be irresistible like this one below:

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This Instagram cheat sheet is  enough motivation for people to join a mailing list. 

Create rich content like a simple video series, reports, or cheat sheets to get people to sign up. Keep the content simple and easy to understand so people don’t feel overwhelmed and discouraged from buying.

3. Publish free content that solves a problem

When you share valuable content without putting money first, you show genuineness and make yourself an authority in your niche.

Even the best course platforms know this truth. They share free content with their audience to provide value, build authority, and establish trust.

Take Teachable, for example. Their platform provides free content to assist course creators. These content ranges from podcasts and free ebooks to marketing guides and case studies:

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Like Teachable, you can integrate different types of content in your online course sales funnel, such as: 

Case studies

This content type is highly effective in persuading and convincing potential buyers. Here’s an excellent example from Amy Porterfield:

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Amy shares a framework that helped an existing student, James Sears, generate over 200k dollars. She uses this to encourage more enrollments for her course.

Likewise, publish free case studies to invite people to your course. Start by finding people who have taken your course. Curate their success stories into case studies, showing your course’s value to potential students.

Podcasts

Podcast episodes (audio content) are ideal for engaging busy and unavailable people unable to read articles and blog posts. 

You can create podcasts for various audiences. For instance, if you cater to a ‘career-type’ target audience, publishing podcasts can do your online course sales funnel great good.

For example, Penn hosts a solo podcast — The Creative Penn Podcast — where she educates her audience on creative writing across various subjects. 

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Like Penn, incorporating solo podcasts into your online course sales funnel can be a game changer. You may start by discussing one topic from your course outline on your podcast and sharing valuable details with your audience. 

Blog posts

Content marketing aside, using blog posts as a course marketing tactic allows you to dive neck-deep into your target market’s challenges and provide solutions. It also helps with positioning you as a go-to authority on Google. 

However, to effectively use the blog post tactic, your content should be a comprehensive mini-course that addresses a small part of several customer challenges. Why? That way, you can sell readers your online course as an all-in-one solution for their specific problems. 

For instance, say you’re targeting newbie gardeners. Common problems for this market might be;

  • How to prepare a nursery bed?
  • How to grow seedlings?
  • How to grow vegetables from stems?

You might decide to tackle “preparing a nursery bed from scratch” in your blog posts and delve further into using the nursery bed to grow seedlings in your online course. 

Free content aims to get prospective students hooked to consider an additional content upgrade. Content type aside; your main focus should be providing educational content value and increasing sales conversion rates. 

4. Send a welcome email to engage new subscribers

Although basic, welcome email campaigns are essential for an effective sales funnel. How you tailor your welcome emails determines how your prospects engage with you.

If your welcome emails are great, you could get more email opens in future emails. However, subscribers may not take you seriously and lose interest if it looks like an afterthought. 

Introduce your brand and a breakdown of what they can achieve with you. Afterward, point them to the next action step to facilitate their buying journey.

See how Eduonix engages new customers who sign up:

Done thanking the subscriber, what’s next? Include a download link if you promised a free resource. 

Meanwhile, encourage new subscribers to engage with you via social media. Make yourself easily accessible to answer questions and help them when they’re in a pinch. 

Finally, include an unsubscribe button to allow uninterested people opt out of the list. This frees up space for new subscribers and avoids flagging your sender address as spam. 

5. Create an automated email follow-up series

Automated email series are a bunch of emails you send to prospects after they subscribe to your list. These emails boost customer engagement, establish your credibility, and generate sales for you. Most importantly, they help convince prospects to sign up for your course. But how?

Give prospects a sneak peek of your new course via email series. Ideally, this is best for free courses. Divide your free course into lessons and have your subscribers take them via email. 

Here’s a superb example of how Aweber does it:

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Aweber uses automated email series to offer potential customers a free, beginner-friendly email marketing course.Their 30-day free email course engages customers for one minute daily, keeping Aweber top of mind. 

You, too, can create simple email sequences to educate prospects about your course. If they’re new, have them go through the free lessons while you upsell them on advanced courses. 

At the end of the course duration, you may request testimonials and use that to improve your sales funnel.

6. Follow-up with non-buyers

There are chances some prospects won’t sign up for your online course after you invite them. However, you can take a step further instead of feeling blue about that and find out why they discontinued enrollment.

An issue tracking system can help you do this. With a tracking system, you can segment non-buyers into different email lists for further assessment and ask them survey questions like;

  • Why they didn’t sign up for the course?
  • What topics would they like covered in the course?
  • What is their ideal budget?
  • How they want their courses delivered (video tutorials, text, audio, and other content types)?

These questions will help you gain useful insights on areas to improve and the necessary adjustments to include in your online course sales page. Additionally, you can transform these questions and their corresponding answers into a FAQ section on your landing page.

Ultimately, your sales will skyrocket when you follow up with non-buyers and address their needs.

In closing

Selling your online course doesn’t have to be hard if you follow the tips in this article. First, strive to create a powerful sales funnel targeted and tailored to the needs of your audience.

When you understand these needs, build an email list targeted at them and use lead magnets to attract them. Meanwhile, leverage free content, such as podcasts, blog posts, and email newsletters, to ease the buying process and win prospects over.

Finally, engage your leads using a welcome email, and follow them up with automated email series. If there are non-buyers, track them and identify their challenges. This information can help you make adjustments while ensuring your course content meets their exact pain points.

Baidhurya Mani is the founder of SellCoursesOnline.com. He regularly shares tips, tools, and strategies to help creators and entrepreneurs build a successful online course business.

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